‘Like’ This Article, Your Friends Will Too

August 9, 2013

Need to bring positive attention to something in your business? A new study is showing the power of the “like” button on social networks. The study found that if you “like” an article on a site such as Facebook, one of your followers will be likely approve it as well, even if the article isn’t really all that great. 

Indeed, one “like” can set off a chain reaction of approval through a network. In other words, researchers note: “Hype can work.” 

Researchers evaluated thousands of people’s behavior through their comments online. The study appears in the journal Science. 

“We saw how these very small signals of social influence snowballed into behaviors like herding,” says Sinan K. Aral, one of the study’s researchers and a professor of information technology and marketing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,

On the other hand, for those who have a negative reaction to something, followers aren’t as likely to just go along with the crowd. In fact, researchers found that a commenter’s friends were more likely to correct a person for something negative. 

Duncan J. Watts, a scientist at Microsoft Research, told Bloomberg News the findings fit the idea of “cumulative advantage,” the idea that something that starts slightly more popular will build upon that popularity until it is far ahead of its competitors.  Also, if something does not catch on, it will usually fade away, even if it is good. 

“The biggest obstacle to success is just being noticed,” Watts says.

Source: “‘Like’ This Article Online? Your Friends Will Probably Approve, Too, Scientists Say,” The New York Times (Aug. 8, 2013)

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